A couple of days ago, I posted the stuffed pepper recipe I resurrected after buying a five pound bag of mixed color bell peppers at a good price (not to mention a two pound bag of shelled walnuts from Costco). Well, one pound of beef only stretches so far.
So tonight we’re building a Lebanese-style mezza (sort of a salad bar dinner). We made a batch of hummus, picked up some pastry dough made with butter and made spanakopita, whipped up some baba ghanoush eggplant salad and then made a batch of muhammarah - a great use of roasted peppers and walnuts.
For those interested in how to make this tasty dish, see below (and yes, there is lemon for the lemon lovers )
Muhammara (Red Pepper and Walnut Spread)
(Syrian, Arminians call it gameroug)
1-2 Tablespoon (15-30 ml) pomegranate molasses (or 3/4 cup (180 ml) pomegranate juice), Syrians use tamarind syrup here
3 red bell peppers (360 g) skin on
4 Tablespoon (50 g) bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes or to taste (or sub pepperoncino flake or sarachi sauce and reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)
2 clove garlic (3 g), minced (or sub garlic-infused oil)
1/2 cup (55 g) raw walnuts, loosely chopped
2 Tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil plus a bit to finish the top
2 teaspoon (10 ml) lemon juice (I suggest considering to omit if using jarred roasted peppers)
Chopped parsley and drizzle a swirl of olive oil
Heat oven to 450° F (232 C) and place whole bell peppers directly on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until blackened on the outside. Cover with foil to let steam and cool for 10 minutes. Then peel away core, seeds, and skins and set aside.
To a food processor, add pomegranate molasses, bread crumbs, cumin, salt, chili flakes, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and lemon juice and pulse (instead of blend) to combine. Then add roasted peppers and pulse a few more times to combine. I think a little texture is nice in this dip instead of a purée.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lemon for acidity, garlic for “zing,” chili flakes for spice, pomegranate molasses for sweetness / depth of flavor, sea salt for saltiness, or cumin for smokiness.
Serve with fresh pita, flatbread, crackers, or vegetables of choice! Best when fresh. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before enjoying.
NOTE: I sometimes use jarred roasted peppers. I rinse them and then completely dry them and leave some or all of the lemon juice out of the recipe as they are packed in citric acid.
It’s easy to find pomegranate molasses if you have Middle Eastern or Turkish grocery stores nearby, else you can make your own pretty easily:
4 cups pure 100% pomegranate juice (bottled or fresh)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice into a small saucepan.
Heat up over medium until the sauce begins to simmer lightly. Stir to dissolve sugar. Allow the liquid to simmer very lightly for 60-80 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, till the liquid reduces by 75% to about 1 cup of molasses.
The liquid is ready when it has a light syrupy consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t let it thicken too much, or it will harden when it cools.
Pomegranate juice cooked down to where it coats a spoon.
Remove from heat. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools. If you’re unsure about the consistency, measure the reduce liquid-- it should be between 1 and 1 1/4 cups of syrup. If it’s a lot more liquid than that, continue reducing.
After the syrup cools completely, store it in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.